Nine months later, the sentences are now beginning to rain down on those the Shanghai government has decided were responsible for the residential blaze in Jing’an district that killed 58 people. Surprisingly, nobody yet is slated to executed. Instead, the highest-profile official has “only” gotten 16 years, which has some of the victims’ families upset.
That sentence, the heaviest one, was given to Gao Weizhong, former director of the Construction and Transport Committee of Shanghai’s Jing’an District, who, according to China Daily:
… illegally permitting a decoration company to undertake renovation of the building and allowing the work to be conducted away from the supervision of construction authorities.
Judges heard earlier that construction companies and other businesses had paid Gao 121,000 yuan in bribes between 2004 and 2010 in exchange for lucrative projects.
His colleagues Yao Yaming, Zhou JIanmin and Zhang Quan were given prison terms between 5 to 13.5 years, according to the BBC, and have been fined for the kickbacks the are convicted of having taken.
Also sentenced were the heads of Shanghai Jiayi Decoration Company. Says Shanghai Daily:
Huang Peixin, owner of Shanghai Jiayi, received a jail term of 16 years for his liability for the inferno and accepting bribes. After Huang was offered the renovation project, he then subcontracted parts of the project to six companies despite knowing they were not qualified.
Huang accepted a bribe of 620,000 yuan from several owners of small firms from 2005 to 2010, and offered them a series of renovation projects in Jing’an.
And Ma Yibang, vice general-manager of Shanghai Jiayi, was sentenced to 15 years and six months, for his responsibilities for the fire and accepting bribes of more than 940,000 yuan.
Their sentences were handed out in front of an audience of more than 1,600 people – including Shanghai officials, media crews, residents of the destroyed building and other interested onlookers. At least one was very unhappy with the verdict.
“The sentences given, especially to Gao, who indirectly killed 58 people, are unfair,” Wang Hong, whose mother and wife perished in the blaze, told China Daily.
For a full run down of the sentences of all 20-some defendants, go to Jiefang Daily (in Chinese).
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